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Estrella v. Hogsten

July 16, 2007

MIGUEL A. ESTRELLA, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
KAREN HOGSTEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Miguel A. Estrella ("Estrella"), an inmate formerly confined at the Low Security Correctional Institution at Allenwood ("LSCI Allenwood"), in White Deer, Pennsylvania, commenced this pro se Bivens*fn1 styled civil rights action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331 on July 10, 2006. (Doc. 1.) Estrella contends that his Fifth Amendment rights under due process were violated when prison officials transferred him from one facility to another. He further contends that prison officials attempted to "cover up" this violation by "forging" his detention order. In addition, he claims that prison officials failed to provide him with adequate medical care relating to a hernia. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief. Presently ripe for disposition is a motion to dismiss the complaint and for summary judgment, filed on behalf of several prison officials from LSCI-Allenwood and the Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood ("FCI-Allenwood"). For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss and for summary judgment will be granted.

I. Statement of Facts

Estrella arrived at FCI-Allenwood on February 19, 2004. On April 14, 2006, Estrella was placed in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") of LSCI-Allenwood, pending an investigation by Special Investigative Services ("SIS") and transfer to another institution.*fn2 (Doc. 20-2, p.4, ¶ 5.) He remained in the SHU until October 17, 2006, when he was transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution in Ray Brook, New York.*fn3

A. Confinement in the SHU

On July 5, 2006, Estrella submitted an informal resolution form to LSCI-Allenwood staff alleging that on June 29, 2006, he received an administrative detention order ("ADO") containing inaccurate information. (Doc. 20-2 at 10.) Specifically, he claimed that the ADO indicated that he had received a copy of the ADO on April 14, 2006, when in fact he had never received such a copy. (Id.) He alleged that defendants Pierce and Jurasich had committed fraud, and requested that the ADO be corrected to reflect that he first received it on June 29, 2006. (Id.) On July 12, 2006, staff informed Estrella that he had been provided with a copy of the ADO on June 29, 2006, because the original April 14, 2006, ADO could not be located. (Id.) However, the reproduced ADO, dated June 29, 2006, did reflect the correct date that Estrella arrived in the SHU. (Doc. 20-2 at 12.)

On July 13, 2006, Estrella filed administrative remedy 420834-F1, alleging that the information on the June 29, 2006, ADO was false, and that defendants Pierce and Jurasich had committed fraud. (Doc. 20-3 at 2.) As relief he requested "a new order issued to reflect the correct date (6/29/06), time (8:00 a.m.), and Officer (Yaeger) who issued and/or witnessed that the document was given to [him]." Id. The warden denied this request on September 7, 2006. (Doc. 20-3 at 1.) Estrella appealed to the Regional Office, which granted his appeal on October 13, 2006. (Doc. 20-2 at 29.) In doing so, the Regional Director stated,

Although there is a question concerning when you received your initial ADO and who provided it to you, there is no dispute that you were initially placed in SHU on April 14, 2006. In an effort to clarify the documentation, a new, revised ADO will be provided to you that clearly indicates the date you receive it, the date you were initially placed in SHU, and why you were placed in SHU. (Id.) As a result, the amended ADO reflects the date it was prepared, October 19, 2006. (Doc. 20-2 at 14.) Estrella acknowledged receipt of this amended ADO on October 20, 2006. (Doc. 20-2 at 15.) There is nothing in the record indicating that Estrella filed any further appeals relating to this issue.

On September 27, 2006, Estrella filed administrative remedy 428488-F1, alleging that he had been held in the SHU for five months without being told the reason. (Doc. 20-3 at 14.) He also stated that he had not received housing review forms and he had not been interviewed by the Segregation Review Officer ("SRO"). (Id.) The warden denied this request on October 6, 2006. (Doc. 20-3 at 16.) Estrella's appeal, 428488-R1, of this decision is pending before the Regional Office. (Doc. 20-2 at 26.)

B. Inadequate Medical Care

Estrella also claims that prison officials failed to provide him with adequate medical care related to a hernia he developed while in the SHU. He also alleges discrimination in the denial of medical treatment. In support of the instant motion, defendants have provided the following information related to Estrella's medical care.*fn4 From April 14, 2006, through April 17, 2006, and from May 1, 2006, through May 25, 2006, Estrella was assigned to an upper bunk in the SHU.*fn5 (Doc. 20-3 at 19.) On June 2, 2006, Estrella reported to sick call complaining of a hernia on his left side.*fn6 (Id.) He was examined and a consult was written for further evaluation by an outside surgeon. (Doc. 20-3 at 19-20.) On July 7, 2006, Estrella was examined again by medical staff and prescribed a stool softener.*fn7 (Doc. 20-3 at 20.) On July 11, 2006, Estrella was evaluated by an outside surgeon and surgery to repair the hernia was scheduled. (Doc. 20-3 at 27, 31.) On August 11, 2006, Estrella was again evaluated by medical staff and received a refill of his pain medication.*fn8 (Doc. 20-3 at 20.) On August 31, 2006, Estrella had hernia repair surgery. (Doc. 20-3 at 21.) Medical staff subsequently evaluated Estrella on September 1 and 7, 2006, and found the wound was healing well. (Id.) Estrella was returned to the SHU on September 7, 2006.

Through the course of his medical treatment, Estrella submitted grievances pertaining to his care. On June 16, 2006, Estrella submitted an informal resolution form to LSCI-Allewood staff, complaining of his pain due to the hernia and inquiring into his medical treatment based on his detention status. (Doc. 20-3 at 13.) On June 21, 2006, staff informed Estrella that he had been referred for a surgical consult, and that his medical needs would be addressed regardless of his holdover status. (Id.)

On July 21, 2006, Estrella filed administrative remedy 421122-F1, complaining of his pain due to the hernia and the delays in his medical treatment. (Doc. 20-3 at 11.) On August 10, 2006, the warden denied Estrella's request, informing him that the surgeon did not consider his repair to be of an emergent nature, and that surgery would be scheduled. (Doc. 20-3 at 12.)

On August 21, 2006, Estrella appealed to the Regional Office. In his appeal, 421422-R1, Estrella claimed that he had been denied medical treatment based on his holdover status. (Doc. 20-3 at 9.) He stated, "I have clearly been discriminated and forced to endure this severe pain until my captors find it at their convenience to take me to a hospital." (Id.) On September 19, 2006, the Regional Office granted his appeal based on the fact that ...


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